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The universe is a coyote

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
3 min read
The universe is a coyote

When I pulled into the line-up outside the hotel parking garage, there was a white SUV already parked by the keycard reader, the access gate lowered.  A button-down-shirt-sleeved arm stretched out the window, inserting and removing the keycard into and out of the reader.  Insert, remove, pause, red and yellow lights mix to orange, indicating no admittance.  Again.  Into, out of, orange.  Again.  Into, out of, orange.

The attempts weren’t quite that rhythmic — periodically, the hand attached to the arm would rotate the card, or flip it over, trying a slightly different orientation that would cause a delay in the into, out of, orange, again routine.  But still, the result was the same.  Over, and over.

I set my parking brake.  I pulled out a camera.  I took two photos of the SUV, the outstretched hand, attached to a person who seemed determined that if only he tried one more time then bingo.  The next into, out of, would be followed by something other than an orange light.  I admired his tenacity and optimism while growing frustrated with it as well.  After twenty or more tries, isn’t it time to admit defeat?  To gracelessly execute a fifty-point-turn to get out of the now lengthy line of cars stacked up behind his and mine to retreat to the front desk for a new keycard?

But, I reminded myself, he’s likely a lawyer.  This is, after all, a convention center hotel, hosting a single event — the one I’m here for — a three-day legal convention.  So all bets on human behavior when faced with this particular situation are off, I thought, reflecting on the one and only time I had a lawyer for a client during my days of legal practice and let’s just say the case involved allegations involving my client’s neighbor’s property and a dangerous weapon.

Into. Out of.


Me.  In the other Vancouver, for three days, surrounded by lawyers.

The universe is a coyote. A trickster.

My amusement shifted to annoyance and I struggled to find my way back to amusement, tired from a couple of hours of driving and from the time spent in the car by myself, alone after a number of days of near-constant distraction and company.  Feeling a mix of impatience to get into my quiet temporary home with its simplicity and lack of uncertainty and questions; and fear.

Into, out of. Orange.  Over and over.  Same result.

My annoyance shifted to incredulity.  In part, because of the scene in front of me; in part, because the line-up of vehicles containing likely-lawyers behind me hadn’t yet made a peep of a horn.

I lost count.

I thought to myself as the hand reached the key card toward the reader again. “Good God.  What does he think is going to happen?”

Into, out of.


When I arrived at my room a few minutes later after losing track of the SUV in the parking garage, I pulled out my keycard and inserted it into the reader.

Into, out of. Orange.

I smiled, and thought about all of the many orange lights in my life, only one of them having anything to do with a card reader.  I thought of the hand attached to the shirtsleeved arm reaching out of the SUV, attached to a man who believed that if he just kept trying, eventually the challenge he was facing would yield.  I reminded myself that the challenges I am facing will — eventually — yield.  And I placed the card into the reader again.

Stop. Go.


Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.